I haven’t written much this summer, even though I didn’t take an official break like I have in the past. It’s been a huge season for our family, with my dad’s death, graduating 3 of our 5 kids from college or high school and launching them into the world, refuge community life, and an amazing summer teaching people to board and ski for #waterheals. I am not quite in the fall groove yet, but I am starting to feel that transition coming.
On my personal Facebook wall I don’t share much about our current president and this horrifying political administration. I have safe spaces that are just better for it. However, I never want my not posting on public social media to be a sign of complacency on my part. I am far from complacent. What we are experiencing as a nation is a travesty, and I am extra sickened by the entanglement between a powerful block of evangelical leaders and this current administration. I am disgusted by the ongoing onslaught against immigrants and refugees in this country, the constant daily bullying and degrading that the president of the United States of America shares on Twitter, of the pandering to a base of followers who perpetuate racism, conspiracy theories, and fear-mongering at its deepest level.
However, the thing that I can’t shake is how we continue to think that somehow Donald Trump is going to wake up one day and be different. That when John McCain died, he’d behave more civilly. That somehow when asked direct questions by the media he’d answer them with some form of articulation other than self-praise and incomplete sentences. That he wouldn’t keep turning everything toward himself.
He’s a narcissist, people!
They don’t wake up different.
Haters are gonna hate (Taylor Swift) and narcissists are gonna narcissist.
The reason I wanted to write on this today isn’t only because of our current president. Narcissist leaders are embedded in our culture, especially in the church. We thrive on the power and strength and might that many narcissists embody; we love to cheer for winning, for kicking ass and taking names, for victorious language, for all the things that are the antithesis of Jesus.
I have so many friends who were married to pastors, ministry leaders, and high- level executives who are flaming narcissists. People around them praise them for their charismatic leadership, charming personalities, clarity of vision, and strength “for the Lord.” But underneath, there is an insidiousness that pervades their relationships. They’ve lived under the constant belittling, the crazy-making, gas-lighting, power-upping, and making everything about them in the end.
Narcissists are gonna narcissist.
Not all narcissists are blatant and loud like our current president. Some are quieter, subtler, and sneakier, appearing softer and more humble than they really are; however, underneath, in more intimate relationships, they are constantly making everything about themselves, desperate to retain power, and maintaining control in different ways that make those in relationship with them doubt and question themselves.
The bottom line for me today is to remember that we are all being taken for a big fat ride right now, and our hooking into it isn’t helping. Our constant outrage is exhausting us, and we have to find a way to last through this dark season in our history.
When we’re in relationship with a narcissist, we’re in the middle of a trauma, and it takes its toll.
One of the first steps is to acknowledge that narcissists are gonna narcissist, no matter how much we hope or pray or hold out that maybe something’s going to change. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in healing (I hold an incredible amount of hope for what can happen in recovery for people; if I didn’t, I would have left this work years ago). Yet, the reality is that most narcissists never get that kind of help. They never stick with therapy and submit themselves to recovery groups or healthy community for the long haul. They always blame others and find a way to deflect. They surround themselves with “yes people” who feed their egos and confirm their methods for the sake of their cause.
Our work, in relationship with a narcissist leading our country, is to be the healthier ones.
To see it for what it is.
To be more honest.
To stay awake.
To find a way to retain our dignity while someone’s systematically trying to strip it.
For those of you who used to follow narcissist church leaders and are trying to find your way to freedom, you’re not crazy and you’re not alone. There are so many I know who are healing from the damage and how God got all tangled up with unhealthy power systems.
For those of you who have been in intimate relationship with a narcissist, my heart is with you. It’s a brutal untangling, and I have so much respect for you for getting out, rebuilding, and finding your way over time. The toll it takes is immense, and I am so sorry that so many people didn’t believe you when you went to them for help, that they couldn’t imagine that he or she could really be like that, and they somehow blamed you.
The same thing is happening in our current political environment, where those who are calling out the BS are labeled divisive and angry and not to be taken seriously because they can’t play nicely and toe the narcissist’s line.
I hope our country can untangle over time.
I hope our souls can heal over time.
I hope we can gather as much courage and integrity and peace and health we possibly can to make it through this next season.
Meanwhile, let’s be honest. Narcissists are gonna narcissist.